What’s Happening in Plano?

We’ve completed another local election season here in North Texas that left a lot to be desired in some of the municipalities. As with our national elections of-late, it seems to be the norm for unprofessionalism and mud-slinging to take place. But at The Tomlin Team, we are blessed to know several people involved in North Texas local politics who are upstanding citizens with authentic desires to help and serve. And we recently had the pleasure of attending an economic update from one of those people – Councilman Ron Kelley of the Plano City Council. If you ever feel discouraged about local politicians, seek out Councilman Kelley. Your hope will be renewed in those who serve us locally here in North Texas. He provided an excellent update to a group of REALTORS® at Benchmark Mortgage in Plano, TX, about the City of Plano and shared his passion and excitement for our growing area. Here’s an overview of a few of the interesting topics he shared involving economic development, challenges with growth, water supply, quality workforce and transportation/mobility for the City of Plano: Population Growth

Population Plano Collin County DFW - The Tomlin TeamObviously, we have experienced unbelievable economic growth & expansion in the DFW area without current population at 7.1 million. The population of Collin County has almost doubled since the year 2000 with the 2017 population counting at just under one million – 914,127 Plano is the 4th largest city in this area and is presently the largest city in Collin County.  However, Celina will one day be the largest city in Collin County. As one of the pastors at Prestonwood in Plano, Kelley shared that one day the Prestonwood campus in Prosper will be larger than the campus in Plano.

Population by Race/Ethnicity Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.27.08 AMThe Asian population in Plano accounts for 19% of the total population. This is 3 times greater than the US average over any city in America. Councilman Kelley shared that the diversity of the city of Plano (and Collin County) will continue to get more diverse every day. Major Employers Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.31.18 AM Toyota is all the buzz right now in Plano. This October, they will be moving into their headquarters officially, but they’ve already proven to be a great corporate citizen to the city of Plano.  Toyota has already given a $1.5 million grant for senior citizens in the form of Lyft, Uber, etc., transportation vouchers to medical appointments.  In addition, all parks in Plano now have Wifi thanks to Toyota. None of the Toyota executives are moving to Plano – they are buying property north of Plano.  Most are coming from California. The Toyota CEO said the #1 reason why they moved the company here was that he wanted a better quality-of-life for his workers (affordable homes, lower taxation, lower cost of living, less traffic, etc.). Challenges Facing Plano Challenge #1: Water Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.32.21 AMMost people do not realize the extreme macro- and micro-issue challenges affecting our water supply here in North Texas. The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) has 13 member cities (Plano being one) and 22 customer cities (customer cities pay a higher rate). In order to change the terms and conditions, the member cities have to vote and agree 13-0. This is challenging because the member cities have widely varying needs and challenges (i.e. Plano’s challenges are much different from Royce City’s challenges), and they can vote against each other. NTMWD did not invest in their infrastructure. There is now a new management team in place and they’re investing in their infrastructure now.  But water prices will go up 10% this year and next year because the water plant has to be updated and built out. Challenges:
  • Had to build $400 million filtration plant after zebra muscle issue in Lake Texoma a few years ago.
  • Boundary disagreement over Lake Texoma split the new filtration plant down the middle and caused that project to be put on hold for over a year until a legislative vote freed it up.
  • Getting a new reservoir – a new water source – takes 30 years with a seemingly impossible EPA process.
  • Lake Lavon was built for water control – not as a reservoir.  But it’s being used as a reservoir.
  • It takes 3 gallons of Lake Lavon water mixed with 1 gallon of Lake Texoma water (because of sodium level so high in Lake Texoma) to make the water acceptable for drinking.
  • Plano tests their water from NTMWD four times a day. Because the Plano water system was built to push water through and not store it, summertime is difficult because water sits. If a test result is unacceptable, water must be flushed. If you see a hydrant that is blowing out (even during water restrictions – which will be the norm now, by the way), it is because of a bad test result. That water must get out of the system.
  • Here’s the biggest issue between Plano & the water district: we have to pay for water we don’t use.  The most water Plano ever used was 2.7 billion gallons, so Plano is required to buy 2.8 billion gallons of water. But then conservation came and now Plano does not use as much water. This means we have paid $78 million for water we don’t use and $13 million for water we couldn’t use (water that had to be flushed).  Plano asked the NTMWD to take the water we don’t use and sell it. They will not allow that.  So the City of Plano is suing the water district. The City is also asking the PUC to change the methodology of the water rates so they are re-examined to off-set the 10% increases.  Under the current terms, it will continue increasing.
Challenge #2: Workforce Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.32.47 AMPlano has a highly educated workforce – an amazing workforce. But more trade workers are desperately needed…we don’t have enough electricians, plumbers, construction workers, waiters, servers, etc. Builders are giving cash bonuses to crews on other job sites because they’re so desperate. This issue could stunt growth.  In fact, if more workers are not found, it will stunt our growth (of Collin County in general). Challenge #3: Transportation/Mobility Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.33.18 AMWe simply cannot build enough roads to handle the growth we have.  Our roadways are already over capacity. The day the Tollway project finishes, it will still be over capacity. 380 has to become a major highway or beltway.  To the east, we need a major road. To see more details, take a look at the updated Collin County Mobility Study (2016). Legacy/Tollway Corridor Solution: There will be 60,000 customers/workers introduced into that corridor.  That is going to be an issue.  The City of Plano formed a team and asked 70 companies to be part of this team to come up with mobility solutions to help with that.  One solution…there is now a DART Express line bus that runs from the Parker Road station to Legacy only for workers to get to work. DART was setup to be a regional solution – not a Dallas solution (as it is now).  Suburbs pay more – mostly Plano. The City of Plano pays $74 million to DART to be a part. The ROI on that is a financial disaster.  But the cities that do not invest in some type of mass transit solution will be hurting economically 30 years from now.  If things do not change with DART, other solutions will be found for Plano. The best alternative for Plano would be to create their own rail line – an express line running right into Legacy West.  Especially for workers, shopping, etc.  Not everyone can drive & park. This line would go through neighborhoods right down Legacy. Changes Needed/Happening From the State Legislature: Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.36.07 AM -Property Tax Reform: SB2; Local control issue; School finance reform; Recapture/Robin Hood (66% of Plano’s property tax bill is from Plano Independent School District with 19% coming from the City of Plano. But PISD cannot lower their tax rate because of Recapture/Robin Hood mandate from the state); Appraisal reform -Sanctuary City Bill -Bathroom Bill Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.36.44 AM Councilman Kelley left the group with great wisdom that we all need to remember: Don’t complain about an issue unless you are willing to get involved in being part of a solution to that issue. And involvement in local government is a way to get involved in creating to solutions to everyday challenges we face – even if it’s simply voting in local elections. Voter turnout for local elections in Plano at its highest recently was only 17%. We can all do better. ================================= Thinking of selling? Click HERE to obtain a thorough report of what your home is worth – today! Time to buy? We have an invaluable Summer 2017 Buyer’s Guide special report for you! Click HERE to receive your copy!

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